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on 17 April 2007
This is the first Grayling book that I have read, and I'm very impressed. Although short, it is a classic example of quality rather than quantity - good points, well made, beautifully written, and attractively bound.

I won't compare it directly to "The God Delusion" (Dawkins) because it is a totally different kind of book (philosophical rather than scientific) but where Dawkins takes rather a long time to explain his (sometimes quite obscure) points, Grayling sums up what it means to live in a world without god(s) in succinct, satisfying chapters.

If you do believe in god (and I totally respect your right to do so...) then I still challenge you to read Grayling's book, and reflect on its sentiments. Many of us atheists have done the same with books such as "The Dawkins Delusion" (McGrath).

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on 8 August 2007
I'm thinking of buying copies as gifts for people who don't appear to understand the meaning of secularism, or who keep going on about Prof Richard Dawkins and others being 'fundamentalist atheists' (there's no such thing, says Grayling). I like the contents and I like the neat little hard-back binding.
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on 26 May 2007
This is a small booklet about why we shouldn't respect religion a priori, about Intelligent Design, and morality; it explains why there's no such thing as a fundamentalist atheist, and what's the difference between the words atheist, secularist, and humanist. Grayling prefers the word "naturalist" instead of atheist (the contrary of "supernaturalist", being any religious person), and he defends why quite convincingly. I read it in one afternoon, and although it's not a bad book at all, I didn't find any new, eye-opening issues in it. This is probably due to the fact I recently read The God Delusion (Dawkins), The End Of Faith, Letter To A Christian Nation (Harris), and Losing Faith in Faith (Barker), which cover the same issues thoroughly.
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on 27 August 2009
The fact that there are lots of reviews here ridiculing this book is a good sign that it is worth reading if you want to balance up in your mind other points of view to theology.

Much of Grayling's books are material gathered from his newspaper articles for the guardian - which somewhat accounts for the brief style. Not everyone wants to read through the long scientific basis for humanism. Graylings books are accessible - which is more than can be said for much philosophy. I have read some of the chapters at a humanist group to start off debate, which is another way to use these meditations.

I don't understand the put down that Grayling is merely on the Dawkins bandwagon. Grayling is a philosopher and Dawkins is a scientist. Presumably then the same applies to any Christian writer who writes a book on a similar topic to one that has already been covered? And even if he were 'jumping on the bandwagon' as many have said it is very different in style and therefore different readers will find it helpful.

There is plenty of argument and reason in this book contrary to what some have said. If it leaves you at times wishing he went further into a topic I agree - but it does cause you to reflect on what he has said and think for yourself which is what humanists aim to do.

If there is one thing that is slightly disapointing in Graylings books is that some of his essays do appear in more than one of his books - perhaps slightly expanded, and you sometimes buy one to find some of the content is stuff you have already read.
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on 27 March 2009
Not so much a book, as a long magazine article between hard covers, this is nevertheless a good, punchy primer for the putative non-believer.

I worry about those who say they read it "In a few hours" or "in an afternoon". You can finish it in just over an hour, and if you're a fast reader, even less. It really isn't very long at all.

A brief, pungent little tome, this is a useful book to keep handy, especially when arguing with Believers on the Internet. There's one thing I would take issue with, however.

Grayling states that non-believers shouldn't call themselves "Atheists" as the very term hints at "Theism" and is therefore arguing with believers on their own turf. Fair enough, but The alternative he comes up with is "Naturalists."

Now, I don't know about you, but when I think of a "naturalist" I think of David Attenborough. That gentleman's own beliefs notwithstanding, I think the term could cause more than a little confusion.

Also, having looked at the author photograph on the flyleaf, I'm of the opinion that Grayling really ought to rethink that haircut...
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on 13 March 2009
I read this book fairly quickly (in a few hours) and found that it was to the point and carefully reasoned. It's nice to read a book where on several occassions, you lift your eyebrows in surprise at little snippets of information you never knew before for example, that jesus wasn't the first virgin birth in religious mythology. I also found amusing the description of the C of E Vicar as a tea sipping and amiable chap that's always friendly and welcoming - unless of course, you provide them with the levers of power. I think A. C. Grayling has written a lovely little book here, just right for sitting back and reading with a cup of coffee of an afternoon. I would also recommend A.C. Graylings' The Choice of Hercules to flesh out some of the ideas in Against All Gods.

This book would be ideal for someone with Secular Humanist leanings who don't just want to define what they don't believe (ie, God), but rather what they actually do believe (ie, human values based within the context of this one precious life).
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on 23 April 2008
Succinct and to the point. Written with wit and eloqunce. If Dawkins has a powerful right hook, Greyling simply knocks the opposition down with a few short jabs and then walks away without even rubbing his knuckles.

To see exactly how effective his arguments are, read the reviews below which give the book just one star, and see the logic that those reviews employ.

Everyone should read this book.
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on 3 December 2007
This is a tightly argued philosophical polemic against religion, but it is no less warm and accessible for that.

Grayling argues that we grow as a species through our human relationships. We do not need "antique superstitions" to be moral individuals, or lead fulfilling lives.

Moreover Grayling demonstrates that the atheist position - that of not having a belief in any Gods - is far warmer, more positive and altogether more enlightening than "spiritual" reliance on Middle Eastern myths.

I agree with an earlier contributor that the biggest gripe about the book is the price, given the volume of text (I read it all in one evening sitting). However, the argument is pure gold, and given what is at stake, that in itself is worth the cover price.
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on 1 April 2008
This short but excellent book will make a fine addition to my collection. While this book may be short it is by no means lacking a punch. A. C. Grayling articulates himself clearly and gets straight to the heart of the issue at hand.

We start off by looking at whether or not religion is worthy of respect, of which, of course, the answer is no. The only thing that should be worthy of respect is whether a person is a decent human being. "It is time to reverse the prevailing notion that religious commitment is intrinsically deserving of respect." We then move on to more harder issues such as the inculcation of children into religion and the fact that 3/4 of Church of England schools are primary schools. As Richard Dawkins would say, this is child abuse: forcing a choice upon them before they have the mental acuity in which to make a rational decision for themselves.

If you're looking for a nice introduction for the rational rejection of belief in supernatural entities of any kind, this is it.
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on 14 February 2009
Brief but lucid and direct - cuts to the profound issues surrounding religion. I particularly found the final essay concerning humanism excellent.
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